Welcome back. Yes, this is still a thing I do. Well, you wouldn’t say so seeing the last update was during the end of April. (In comparison, Tom Kelly has put out 492 Simpsons write-ups since then.) You may have seen the bootleg edition of this article posted a bit earlier. Tom has a few words to say about this episode breaking me. And maybe that’s true. I’m sure if these episodes weren’t so continually crappy, I might have had more incentive to keep up a torrid pace…or a pace period. Batman/Superman The Animated Series these are not.
In Vine, we have Peter helping a friend clean out the attic of an old home her family bought. We don’t often see Peter score, but we’ll give him points for trying and striking out every episode. At least in this episode his “friend” Jackie looks more like Gwen Stacy than the usual red headed Mary Jane clones he usually goes for.
The house that Jackie’s family bought used to belong to a Professor Smithers who disappeared 30 years ago without a trace.
During the cleaning, Peter and Jackie first discover a “seed” in an old cardboard box. As Peter examines it, it seems to grow warmer. He places it in the sun. What’s the worst that could happen?
Shortly afterward Jackie uncovers an old time machine and Smithers diary. In his last entry he writes that he is travelling back to 3 million BC to live out the rest of his days, and is leaving the time machine on in case anyone wants to join him. Good thing someone’s been paying the electric bill in this abandoned house the last thirty years. The Professor goes on to write about the wildlife sample he already brought back from a previous trip through the machine. And how incredibly dangerous it is. Especially when exposed to sunlight. Well, as you can guess, this very dangerous seed is the one Peter placed in direct sunlight not a minute earlier.
So the Professor brought back a 3 million year old seed, and knew how incredibly dangerous it was…and left it lying around in a shoe box?
Needless to say, in a reverse Gremlins situation, the seed sprouts thanks to the excessive energy from the sun and grows uncontrollably. It immediately destroys the old home and begins a path of destruction towards Manhattan.
Peter realizes that a giant flower is just too much of a match for Spider-Man, so he sends Jackie off to get the police and uses the time machine to go back and ask Smithers how they are supposed to stop it.
That covers the first five minutes of the show. And we quickly learn that it was all just a set up to have Spider-Man swing around again on a weird psychedelic background for the next 15 minutes or so. Hey Spidey! Don’t forget to fight some weird giant monsters along the way!
During this most recent LSD trip, Spider-Man does manange to locate Professor Smithers, who tells him that the only way to kill the vine is to feed it radium. But the only radium left is being used as the eyes of the Great Idol in the Forbidden City. It seems the vines mutated and now feed off the radium slowly instead of eating it all at once and killing them. Spider-Man can kill two birds with one stone if he retrives the eyes, which will kill the inhabitants of the Forbidden City and allow the Professor and his “men” to return there, and give Spider-Man something to use against the vine in the future.
Spider-Man eventually gets to the Forbidden City…which looks an awful lot like the home of the Subterraneans in the future.
During the course of our numerous discussions on the Batman and Superman Animated Series, Tom Kelly and I have had several discussions around what makes something “alive”? Was a piece of Clayface that had created its own identity with independent thought alive? How about Poison Ivy’s plant “constructs” that could take the place of people like something from Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Are they alive? Batman and Robin sure didn’t think so as they casually caught them on fire or watched them drown.
Spider-Man seems to be of the same mindset. The “mutated” vines that populate the Forbidden City are plants (which Tom Kelly would point out here are alive), but have grown arms and eyes and developed speech and are able to make complex decisions. For all intents and purposes, they are no different than many other tribes or creatures that Spider-Man has encountered previously. (Such as the previously mentioned Subterraneans.) But that doesn’t stop Spider-Man from killing several of them while trying to get to the Idol. He even comments on how much fun it is to kill them.
Spider-Man does manage to get himself captured and for threatening the vines “vegetable superiority” is forced to battle another giant monster in the arena, which doesn’t take long. Spidey then swings up and takes the radium gems and heads back to meet Smithers and the time machine. There is a final, extended shot of the Forbidden City as all the vine mutates clutch at their throats and eventually die. Man, if I had a nickel for every time that happened in the Amazing Spider-Man comic…
Spider-Man quickly informs Smithers that the vines are dead and the city is his again, and then swings on back through the time machine where he easily dispatches of the vine in the present. Villains need to learn to not walk around with their mouths open so that Spider-Man can’t go easily dropping antidotes or radium gems in them.
Peter’s a hero (with an assist from Spider-Man) and he gets an invite from Jackie to drop by her house later and check out her basement, youknowwhatI’msaying!